First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.
Except when sex came first, now what?
My hope is to shed some light on the struggles of intimacy in marriage and how our sexual history may have impacted that. If you are not married don’t stop reading, this is still for you. Ultimately, we will dissect what happens when sex, love, and marriage happen out of order, then break down how to pursue healing.
A large percentage of people throughout the world practice “Casual Sexuality.” Casual Sexuality is sexual engagement that is primarily about feeling good or emotional coping. Examples could be: masturbation, one-night stands, multiple partners, or even non-intercourse sexual experiences. It is important to know that this is most likely not entirely your fault. Your first sexual experience has a massive impact on your sexual narrative.
God designed sex to happen within marriage for a very powerful purpose. Sex is meant to bind a couple together at a depth they have with no one else. We all have multiple relationships in our lives, but no matter how close we are, sex is reserved only for our spouse. There isn’t a single other person, family or friend we are meant to engage in this way with. Why? Because God knew we would need a, “’Til death do us part,” bonding agent that connects our body, soul, and spirit. For this to happen most naturally, the partners need to have abstained from casual sexual experiences. What happens when one or both partners have engaged in sex casually?
“God knew we would need a, ”Til death do us part,’ bonding agent that connects our body, soul, and spirit.”
You may be a product of sexual conditioning and not even know it. Think back to how you were introduced to sexuality. For many guys, it was late elementary or early middle school when an older brother, friend, or neighbor introduced them to porn. For women it is often, though not always, through gaining affection in some way.
Then as life continues, the first interaction creates a drive for sex and fulfillment. For many, porn seems harmless because it is “just me and my screen.” Women tend to be more aware of the pain, but because of the instant feeling of value, continue engaging. So we walk through life experiencing casual sexuality. Our first and then most frequent introductions to sexuality are done with very little meaning.
Consider the first time a person has an orgasm because of a video or image. When he or she looks at that image and then has the climax moment, it is the same exact physical response they will have to sex. The first sexual experience with our spouse is meant to create a powerful bond. However, for most this isn’t their first time. As a matter of fact, many can’t count how many orgasms they’ve had. Their entire sexual narrative was built on casual experiences and now they are supposed to flip a switch to reframe an orgasm to be intimate. By the time you are in marriage, it’s embarrassing to admit you think about someone else, relive past memories, or need porn still.
Perhaps it’s not pornography, but you have had multiple partners over the years. If this is you, I encourage you to stop and ask this question, “Am I practicing divorce?” By bonding with different partners then breaking up, we are devaluing the bond that takes place in our brain.
So now what? What can be done to change a paradigm and reset for an intimate marriage? The answer is not a quick fix or easy, but it is more than possible!
A leading Christian neuroscientist on this topic is Dr. Caroline Leaf. She wrote a book entitled, “Switch On Your Brain.” In this book, she explains how the brain works in regards to creating and changing habits. She then breaks down how one would begin to repair a broken paradigm. This book gives a crystal clear path of how to rewire the brain based on science and the Bible.
So here is a brief paraphrase of some of Dr. Leaf’s thoughts. I highly recommend her book because she really dives into this in ways I just simply lack the knowledge to do.
1. Acknowledge the sins committed
This is something that is important for us to practice as Christians. We must repent. It seems that many misunderstand grace as something that overlooks sin. Grace forgives and redeems sin but one must acknowledge that sin was committed.
2. Accept forgiveness
It seems impossible that we would receive something for free. It’s important to spend as much time on this as you need. Thank God out loud for your forgiveness and tell Him you believe in His grace. As you do this, you will be hardwiring your brain to believe God has forgiven you.
3. Create a Statement of Change
Prayerfully create a statement that addresses the broken paradigm. For example, if pornography is a struggle, try to discover why. A statement of change might be, “I find my value in who Christ has made me, and I don’t need casual sexuality to discover my self-worth.”
4. Find Loving Support
Identify someone in your life whom you trust and who will commit to you. Ask them for a 21-day commitment to help retool your thinking. They will be your support when you feel unforgiven, are struggling with temptation and will pray for your freedom.
As many know, it takes 21 days to break a habit. This comes from the time it takes your brain to rewire a thought. You may need two or three 21-day cycles depending on a number of things, but with the power of the Holy Spirit and your partnership to be diligent, I am certain freedom will be yours. Your sexuality will cease to be casual and you will begin to rebuild a foundation of purity that will prepare you for marriage or repair your current marriage, so that you and your spouse can thrive.